Bless the Grapes. Now, Let the Harvesting Begin! With Video
It was early today when I picked up some provisions at Starbucks and picked up my daughter Caroline in Pearland, Texas. Our plans were to witness the blessing of the 2010 harvest and participate in the harvesting of the Blanc DuBois grapes at Haak Vineyards and Winery in Santa Fe, Texas.
We arrived just in time to see the good padre bless the grapes from the Haak Family Vineyard and finish the ceremony by giving thanks to God with a raised glass followed by a sip of Haak’s dark red wine. It was the vineyard equivalent to saying, “Drivers start your engines!” In nothing flat, a brigade of volunteer grape pickers gabbed buckets and cutters and headed to the rows of vines heavily laden with fruit.
It’s been a good to very good to exceptional year for most growers around Texas; so much so that they are starting to wondered if all the grapes will find a home where they can be made into wine. Just to use Haak’s vineyard as an example, its production this year is much over what it had last year. This year, the only pressure came close to harvest when the rains from a tropical depression arrived in Texas. Rain at harvest time is not something that winegrowers want as it brings issues with fungus, mildew and rots. Therefore, it was important to get these grapes off the vine ASAP.
In 2009, Caroline and I harvested at Carol McCann’s vineyard in Fulshear, Texas, whose white Blanc DuBois grapes were transported to the Haak winery and comingled, crushed and pressed with those from the Haak, Watson and Palacios vineyards. Due to the intense dry heat of 2009, the berries were starting to dehydrate a bit that resulted in about 20 percent less wine than expected. This year, it was a different story. The berries were plump and ripeand ready to go.
See video of Raymond Haak discussing the 2010 Banc DuBois Grape Harvest:
We transferred our grapes from our small plastic bins to larger bins located in the field that could hold up to a thousand pounds of grapes. From there, these bins were transferred to the winery. When we stopped picking, there were at least four bin loaded, the first being dumped into the auger that carried them into the press. The first of the juice, called ‘free run”, leaked to the bottom pan of the press in a rain-like manner. Once the bladder was expanded inside the press, there was a deluge of thick golden-brown Blanc DuBois grape juice that was then pumped into winery and into cooled tanks kept at 66 F.
Once our harvesting was finished, we tasted several of Haak’s finished Blanc DuBois wines from 2009. Caroline and I were most interested in these wines since we figuratively and maybe literatlly had a little of our personal sweat in at least two of the Haak wines made from last year’s harvest of Blanc DuBois at the McCann’s vineyard.
Our interest was primarily in the first two wines. We tasted the 2009 Haak Dry Blanc DuBois, a white wine that was as advertised, crisp and citrusy with a finish that was snappy just like the crack of a whip. The 2009 Haak Semi-Sweet Banc DuBois was a smoother white wine and an appealing quaff that provided a richer mouthfeel and the pleasant crisp sweet finish. From there, we went further up the sugar scale to taste the Haak white Port-style wine and Madeira, both made from the local Blanc DuBois grapes.
We finished our morning at Haak Winery with some lunch and the purchase of a bottle of the Haak Semi-Sweet Banc DuBois to savor another day. After all, it was made with the fruits of our labor, something that will make this wine the sweetest wine of all.